The Connecticut High School Coaches Association has proposed adding two more playoff divisions to the high school football postseason.
If approved, the proposal would return the CIAC football playoffs to an official six-division format for the first time since 2009 by adding Classes for MM and SS.
The state playoffs would retain eight qualifiers, however, which would increase the number of state playoff teams from 36 to 48 — the highest allowed since the CIAC added state football playoffs in 1976.
The plan was first proposed by the CHSCA to the CIAC Football Committee at the April 22 meeting.
A source close the proposal indicated that it could happen as soon as the 2022-23 season, but multiple members of the football committee said there has has not been an official proposal or vote.
If approved by the football committee the proposal still must be vetted by the CIAC’s member school principals, the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors, and voted on by the CIAC Board of Control.
With the exception of one year since 2010, the CIAC’s football playoffs have consisted of four divisions of approximately 35 teams each. The top eight teams qualify for each playoff based on the team’s average playoff point totals. In 2014, the CIAC went to a one-year model of eight divisional championships to align itself with new medical recommendations over contact. The CIAC reverted back to four state champions the following season.
The reasoning behind expanding the current playoffs to six divisions would be to help correct what the CHSCA sees as inequity in how many schools qualify for the football playoffs compared to other sports like basketball or baseball, according to the proposal made on behalf of the CHSCA by Hamden athletic director and football coach Tom Dyer. Multiple attempts to reach Dyer were unsuccessful.
In football, teams have to win approximately 70-80-percent of their games to have a chance to reach the postseason, while in other sports team’s only have to win 40-percent of their games and in some sports even less in “fill-in-the-bracket” tournaments like baseball.
Another reason the CHSCA gave for expansion is to give the sport a boost amid a trend of declining participation
The proposal added that it wouldn’t interfere with the regular season schedule set up or with Thanksgiving games.
In a mock of the six division format — using the 2021 enrollment numbers — there would be 23 teams in each division.
The CIAC has sponsored football playoffs since 1976. For the first 17 years, there were between four and six divisions with the top two in each playing a state final the week after Thanksgiving. In 1994, the CIAC contracted to four divisions but added a semifinal round. In 2002, the CIAC expanded to six playoff divisions of four qualifiers each.
The current format of four playoff divisions and an added quarterfinal round began in 2010.
Sean Patrick Bowley contributed to this story